Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Refinishing Craig's List Nightstands

Since I am the proud owner of a house I have the garage space to really get crafty. I have been in the market for some time for nightstands to match the dark wood dresser I have. Very few items quite looked as I hoped and the ones I fell in love with were $100/nightstand. With the countless hours I have spent pinning my life away - I decided that I could probably make what I wanted just as well.

I searched Craig's list and finally came up with some light wood nightstands that were in pretty good condition. $80 for the two of them. Not a steal by any means, but they are sturdy wood and in great shape. I went to pick them up which was an awkward enough experience in itself. I was ready to lift one out and came to realize the gal hadn't emptied the drawer!

So for those of you who think crafting is not for you - this stuff is easy.

Step 1: Buy used furniture

Step 2: Cleaning, sanding and staining.
I cleaned the nightstands with antibacterial wipes to get off all the dust and other awkward things like candle wax (I don't even want to know!). Then I took a little sandpaper cube and got to work. I tried to evenly sandpaper the entire wood surface, then cleaned it again to get the wood dust off. I did not sand the drawers, because I was not planning to stain them. Then I bought a black wood stain and a staining brush. I was light on the stain because I didn't want it to drip. I also just did one side at a time and let it dry before flipping it to avoid drip marks. I fully intended to do a second coat but one seemed good enough! I was really tired of getting my phone off the floor in the mornings and was anxious to get these babies up and ready to use. Make sure to let it dry in a dry warm place or it does this weird bubbly action.

Step 3: Cover the drawers in contact paper.
I was very disappointed with the contact paper at the local hardware stores so I took to the internet. Much better section there! I was debating a bright orange pattern but settled on neutral colors so I could change my bedroom colors and still keep the nightstands. First, remove the current knobs - usually they just screw off on the inside of the drawer. Then measure and cut the contact paper to cover the front of the drawer with a little extra to go over the sides. Take off the backing and stick it on, easy as that! Well actually, not entirely easy. It takes a lot of patience to have the pattern stay straight and to work out any air bubbles. I used a flat edged piece of plastic (used to clean my stone cooking pans) to work bubbles to the edge.

Step 4: Pick out hardware.
I picked these up at Anthropologie, but I know World Market also carries knobs. As always, take to the internet when you are looking for something particular. You can always keep changing the look of the nightstands by switching out knobs. Just poke them right on through the contact paper and screw in the back.

Step 5: Assemble, put in desired room and grab a glass of fermented grapes. 
Then stand with the glass in your room looking dang proud of what you have accomplished.

Happy Crafting!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Recipe Book is DONE!

I started the friends and family recipe book on January 25th 2010. The book was completed September 20, 2012. Two years and eight months is complete! Wow, what a journey this was. It started as a simple gesture to capture my mother's recipes and turned into something much greater. The recipe book now has over 240 recipes from friends and family all over the country. Some of these recipes are new ones found in cookbooks and some are recipes passed down from generation to generation.

Before this endeavor, I could barely make eggs, "cooking' meant grilled cheese and my post living at home diet turned into fast-food, and pasta. Recipes seemed hard, confusing and not worth the time. The recipe book has changed all of that.

At first it was hard; my knife wielding skills were terrible (they have advanced to mediocre) and I had no sense of the food. No sense of flavors, textures and cooking times. I could not improvise and followed directions to a T. During the recipe book I probably made over 100 calls to people asking what the heck I was suppose to do (mainly my mother). Humorous memories include the time I thought 1/2 can milk meant they sold cans of milk and not just to use the can I just opened and fill it with milk. The time I called to ask what the heck Oleo was, I thought it was some sort of Spanish Frito. It was hard to learn the ways of cooking, it took me hours to locate some of these ingredients in the grocery store. But I can say, that this project has changed all of that.

I am now very comfortable in the kitchen. I LOVE to cook! I love to try new things, new foods, follow recipes, improvise and learn from those around me. I CAN cook. My mistakes are less, my recovery time faster and my dishes more advanced. And in the mist of all that discovery, I still want to come home from a hard day and smell my mother's chili cooking on the stove, the familiar scent of her chicken nuggets baking, or the calm aroma of the banana bread. Classic recipes I have had since I was a child that will never cease to make their way into my kitchen. Christmas morning is always her Christmas Casserole and I hope it will always be. Family traditions are important and the food we eat is a big part of tradition. It reminds us that in a world of constant change and struggle, there are things that will always be there. The love of family.

I am excited to learn more. I have recently decided to learn how to can from my mom. We have started on peach jam, peaches and apple pie in a jar. There is an infinite amount of food knowledge and we can access it from every person we know, we just have to be willing to try.

Thank you to everyone for your support in this process. Thank you for giving up your recipes, taking my confused calls, eating all this food and believing that I could put together something great. Thank you to my mom Jan, my sister Ali and my boyfriend Jeff for spending countless hours editing the pages so it wasn't printed with 2 'gloves' of garlic.

This really has been an eye-opening project and I hope the recipe book provides you with inspiration and comfort.

Love, Jenna

**Email me at if you would like a PDF of the recipe book.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Food Pics

Left over carrots and green beans? Make an Egg! Lame post but awesome picture, worth it?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Homemade bread and burgers

Jeff and I have been really getting into the cook from scratch spirit. We took a long hard look at our finances and bellies and decided that cooking at home was the way to go. I decided as a New Years resolution for 2011 (better late then never) that I wanted to learn how to cook more items from scratch; bread, pasta, noodles etc. My first attempt at bread was okay but not great. I don't think I let it cook long enough and the result was a doughy, yeast tasting center. Don't get me wrong, I love doughy centers but the yeasty taste was a little weird. Oh well, try again! I tried again and was successful! I made six buns that were soft, crunchy and looked like actual bread! The recipe I used can be found here.

I we were trying to figure out what to have for dinner on the drive home from the gym."Well we have ground beef"...and the conversation took off from there. It seemed that all of our leftover odds and ends could all come together in a meal: homemade buns toasted with coconut butter, burgers (Jeff seasoned and added an egg white), turkey bacon, an egg yolk for me (left over from the egg white) and simple salad with lemon juice and olive oil. One slight mistake, HOLY LEMON JUICE. Someone ( drained an entire lemon on the plate. Tart! Anyways to sum it all up, we were so stinking proud of ourselves for creating a meal that I am sure people make everyday. Hello!? Bread has been a around a while, I need to get with the program.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rioja Brunch

You may remember (probably not) a previous post about dinner at Rioja. Good news for you...Rioja does brunch! It truly is a fantastic breakfast experience. And until the word gets out, there is very rarely a wait to get in even on Saturday's and Sundays. So when Snooze tells you the wait is going to be 4 hours or something ridiculous like that....check out Rioja!

The spritzers - a variety of juices with sparking water. The pomegranate was so refreshing. 
Prosciutto wrapped mozzarella. I don't view it as a traditional breakfast item but who is going to argue with food this good?
Strawberry stuffed french toast, for the sweet tooth.
My favorite - Eggs Benedict! Going to say one of the best Benedicts I have had. They really take the time to come up with  great flavor combinations.
Cute Cute Cute! Sea Salt and Pepper with a little scoop. Just adorable.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Jeff's Dinner

I am very sad to say that these pictures are very old and I can't remember the recipe. Jeff created this fantastic meal for me and all I can say is that is was wonderful. Perhaps I can guess what was happening....If not, we can chop this one up to food porn.

Bruchetta toasted with hummus, feta and basil?
Bacon, onion and misc. green herb
Pre-dairy allergy - BUTTER with misc. green herb
Mixing all of the above?
Ohh looks like blue cheese too!
Good gosh...salivating it!
Oh would you look at that. Cute leftover meal for work. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dad Classics

Let me tell you a little about my Dad - the food enigma. There are two kinds of people in this world as far as I am concerned. Those who eat to live and those who live to eat. I am (obviously) the later. I LOVE eating! I always think one day I will be a super stick thin gal who can strut at the beach but alas...I just love food too much. I look forward to dinner, I crave, I try new things, I cook. My Dad eats to live. Eating is more of a chore that is required to remain here on this earth. As long as I can remember, he has been eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich everyday for lunch. EVERYDAY! He wants nothing more than a PB&J. He tells me that made it through college on one dinner item - Little Juan Burritos. Not much for variety. Although, not a foodie, he is an excellent writer. I had to beg a little to get him to write his recipe down but I am so glad he did. I assure you, his sandwiches are made the same way every time and he is willing to share his secret to the perfect PB&J. Tread carefully...this recipe is only for the expert chef ;)

Ed’s Famous PB & J Recipe

·        2 slices white bread
·        Peanut Butter
·        Preserves (not jelly). Boysenberry Preserves are best and unique.
·        Chips, Lays Potato chips preferred
·        Paper Towel

Place 2 slices of bread on a paper towel. Spread the peanut butter on 1 slice, and lightly coat the other to prevent the Preserves from absorbing into the bread. Spread a liberal amount of Preserves on the other slice. Place the Peanut Butter slice on top of the ‘jelly’ slice. Keep the PB&J sandwich on the paper towel to protect your eating surface, and to use to wipe your face with the edge. A generous pile of chips will top off the meal. You can even put a layer of chips inside the sandwich.

Suggested beverage: Grape Kool-Aid

Another Dad Classic. The Lemon Sugar. He has a major sweet tooth. Much to the dismay of the dentist, he just can't get enough sugar! When we were kids (and still today) Dad would treat us all to a lemon sugar for dessert (or really anytime of the day). The Lemon Sugar is also a pretty advanced recipe, so contact a professional before attempting. 

Lemon Sugar

·        Ripe Lemon
·        Sugar
·        Bowl slightly larger than lemon half

Cut lemon in half and use one half and save the other for another round. Remove any visible seeds. Fill bowl with at least ¼ cup of sugar.
Squeeze lemon half a bit to get it juicy.
Lick the lemon around the rim to moisten it so it picks up sugar when dipped. Push the lemon into the sugar and remove. Lick the sugar off the lemon half, including around the rim. The more pressure you use when licking, the more lemon juice you will coax out. Repeat until sugar is gone, then squeeze the lemon juice into the bowl and drink.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Hearty Pancakes

These pancakes are healthy little mamma's! Stick to your ribs they will (sorry that was a Yoda moment). Enjoy! 

Hearty Pancakes

Sarah Manno "Measure of Community" Fort Collins Co-op Favorite Recipe Book

·        1 cup flour
·        ¼ cup each cornmeal, soy flour, wheat germ, and wheat bran
·        2 tsp. baking powder
·        1 tsp. salt
·        1 egg, beaten
·        2 Tbsp. oil
·        2 Tbsp. molasses
·        Milk

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix wet ingredients in a 2 cup measure, adding milk to reach 2 total cups of liquid.  Add ingredients to dry and combine quickly.  Cook in oil in medium-hot skillet.  Add more milk if thinner pancakes are desired.  Makes 12-16, 3" or 4" diameter pancakes.

A note from my friend Katie who passed this recipe along. Note:  I have a bad habit of not following directions.  I don't always use all the different flour listed, and I never measure out the milk.  I just add milk until I get the consistency that I want.  Since, I cook for one, I make what I need and then keep the rest of the mixture in the fridge for a quick warm breakfast during the week!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lou's Food Bar

So these pictures are dark but I just have to give Lou's Food Bar some props. I can say this next statement with absolute certainty that in my heart of hearts it is true - Lou's had the BEST burger I have ever tasted. And let me tell you, I have eaten a lot of burgers. I am not some pansy (no offense) who will order a salad, hold the croutons, hold the bacon bits, add extra lettuce...dressing on the side. No I want the fattest, juiciest burger, add the bacon, add an egg, with french fries. Oh for heaven's tomatoes - please eliminate all healthy aspects. The burger at Lou's was just heaven. I actually told Jeff to stop talking so I could savor every bite. Onlookers perhaps were wary of this young women having a love affair with the burger but if you tried might as well.

In the words of Marcel the Shell - Lou's has a lot of other great qualities, and I like that about it...

Yes, miss picky, ate escargot here and loved it! Granted it was covered in butter and cheese (a dream going forward) but nevertheless, delish!

What's great about Lou's is that they are not pretentious. The food is served on old style diner plates. Not the hip fancy square plates just hardy oval plates with the circle around the edge. The food speaks for itself.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


"Do you have to, do you have to, do you have to let it linger..." Yes I DO! Linger, as very hip restaurant in the highlands that occupies a building that used to be home to the Olinger Mortuary. Did they take the reference too far? I don't think so. The water is served in iodine bottles but they didn't go so far with the theme to serve 'eyeball olives' or 'spagetthi intestines'. 

Why I love Linger:
1. The views are amazing. Rated Top Rooftop bar in all of Denver - as Rated by Ryan Q.
2. They serve tapas from around the world so a lot of different flavors working

3. They have vegan, gluten free and nut free options for the allergic, sensitive and hypochondriac alike.

4. The decor is just plain fun.
5. Service is outstanding.
6. And although I am pained by this --the fried cheese curds are the best (stupid dairy allergy!)
7. A great selection of cocktails
And all of this equals two very happy eaters. I can't wait to go back again soon. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Beatrice and Woodsley

Decor - 10 points for B and W! If you are looking for that special woodland feel as you chomp into some great food while sipping on a unique cocktail you should probably check out Beatrice and Woodsley. This place has real aspen trees surrounding swanky booths. The liqueur is held up at the bar by a huge tree limb being supported my chainsaws stuck in the wall. Then there is magical draping of fabric and a highly trained staff. And the bathroom....well about the bathroom, beautiful...yes, clean...yes, confusing...yes. I suggest taking a buddy with you to the bathroom or you may never make it back. Not to dwell on the bathroom but there really is this 'push/pull' moment when you stand outside the bathroom for 10 minutes only to realize that no one is in there and you have been foiled by the door...again. Then the incredible swanky artsy 'faucet' which may just push you to slap on some antibac and forget the whole thing. But I digress...on to the food!

Served up with Old Overholt Rye, Leopold’s Peach Whiskey,
Apricot Brandy, and Orange Bitters

Served on the rocks with Leopold’s Apple Whiskey, Jack Daniels,
Cinnamon Simple, Lemon Juice and a splash of Soda

Served on the rocks with Muddled Blueberries, Sobieski Vodka,
Simple and St. Germaine

Umm yea! Can you see why my Whiskey-loving self can dig on this place?

Ah yes - the old toe tag on the wine trick. Dearly departed we are gathered here to today to honor the life of a grape. A grape that grew and grew on a vine. The grape was tended to and ripened to the exact right point. Then suddenly, the grape found itself being removed from the vine. Then put in a large barrel and stomped by someone's feet. Tragic. Raise your glasses to the grape...I mean...hmm this is a little awkward.

To be quite honest - we went to eat here quite a while ago and I frankly have no recollection what we ordered. So to say it simple...below is just some food porn, enjoy!

A selection of hand-crafted cheeses, house-made daily bread, garnishes

Twinkling lanterns bring the wonderful dinner to a close...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

D Desserts

With a name like D Desserts you wouldn't think that the entrees would also be a highlight, but they are. D Desserts is a small restaurant that specializes in wonderful desserts but has some delicious entrees. The owner is Food Network star Keegan Gerhard. He is on the show Food Network Challenge where people build enormous themed cakes and he judges them. "Well it looks like the brontosaurus tail is too heavy with rice cereal and the frosting piping on the volcano is atrocious" - This is by no means a real quote from Keegan but it about sums up his job. So before I even knew about D Desserts I was a huge fan of the Food Network Challenge show. So when Jeff and I decided to try out D Desserts I was pretty star struck to see Keegan there, working in the kitchen! We have gone to D Desserts three times for dinner and have seen him there twice. I was pretty stoked and Jeff was mostly unimpressed. On to the food. This was pre dairy allergy so WARNING - cheese in full force.

*baked mac & cheese 8
4 cheeses ∙ cheese nips & panko crumbs ∙ small spring salad
We added tempura lobster to the top!

*southernfried belgian 9.5
fried chix ∙ cheesy waffle ∙ honey mustard ∙ sweet pot. Fries

*soup & sandwich 9
tomato basil soup ∙ 3 - cheese grilled cheese panini

Wouldn't you know, after all that we didn't even get dessert this day! We were too full from the awesome food. We have gotten dessert there and let me say it is amazing! The menu is below, see if anything tickles your fancy...
*cake and shake 9
3-layer choc cake ∙ manjari frosting ∙ vanilla or choc milk shake or malt

*milk and cookies 8
baked to order: choc chip ∙ oatmeal ∙ choc pecan ∙ snickerdoodle ∙ ice cold milk

*d = mc² 9
milk chocolate ∙ praline ∙ salted caramel ∙ rice krispies ∙ chocolate sorbet

*crème brulee 7
vanilla bean custard ∙ strawberry ∙ almond orange caramel biscotti

*booz-flāy ! 11
grand marnier soufflé ∙ passion fruit beignets ∙ passion-mango “sherbet”

*where my PEACHES at – Machu Peachu? 9
crème brulee ∙ peach² ∙ sable breton ∙ lavender ∙ vanilla ∙ ice wine sparkle

*molten cake thingy everybody has… (steamed with a truffle inside!) 10
valrhona manjari 64% chocolate ∙ summer cherries ∙ sicilian pistachio ice cream

*ch ch ch churro! 9
made-to-order churros ∙ rum and cake ice cream ∙ chocolate dipping sauce

*s’mo waffle 9
rock graham waffle ∙ manjari cremeux ∙ toasted marshmallow ∙ malted ice cream

*its back…tropical pavlova…more aerodynamic! 9
baked meringue ∙ mango³ ∙ passionfruit ∙ louisiana lemongrass ∙ tropical granita

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

Ahh best laid plans...

Jeff tried very hard to make Valentine's Day (2011) (don't remark about how behind I am) as special as possible. After working a very long night work and going home to sleep, he made me think that I would not see him on Valentine's Day. I you knew I would. Alas! He showed up in the morning to cook me breakfast. Although his intentions were wonderful...the pancakes just didn't make it.

A rose and card. Jeff says that every woman deserves a rose on Valentine's Day...what a sweetie.

Bacon! Which ended up being most of my breakfast after the pancakes failed. I am not complaining...mmm bacon.

Now this impressed me. Jeff made homemade whipped cream from scratch. He bought cream, added sugar and agave and whipped it up. It was so good and creative and so cute pink.

Fresh squeezed orange hand. We don't have a fancy juicer so Jeff was squeezing these all morning.

To beef up the breakfast a little big Jeff tried to salvage the day with a heart shaped egg. You could really use any cookie cutter to make a cute shaped egg.

Butter first! I can imagine I didn't feel great after this meal knowing now that I have a dairy allergy.
The way to a woman's heart is through an egg...yea pretty sure that's how it goes.
Heart/arrowhead egg.